into The Future through Hoops
Hoops and Leaders Basketball Camp (HLBC), a unique program that’s
only in its first season, brings together 32 boys from all over
New York City—of age 14-16—and 32 professional men to get to know
each other and to, hopefully, establish a mentoring relationship
long into the future.
What serves as the bridge to close the initial communication gap?
“Basketball, of course,” said 25 year-old Aaron Dworkin, the proud
“father” of HLBC.
And it’s true: basketball, more than any other sport, is the great
equalizer, a true microcosm of life. This is a sport based on
making the best possible decisions every time a player runs down
the floor at an extremely fast pace. If that’s not a reflection
of life, what is?
Dworkin has cleverly taken advantage of the unique, strange phenomenon
known as male bonding. Let’s face it, two men may not like each
other all that much and they may even be very wary of each other.
But, put them on a basketball court on the same team and have
them throw some nice passes to each other that result in a basket,
and, more than likely, you’ve got yourself the beginning of a
beautiful friendship. “Basketball was the bridge,’ said Dworkin,
who works as Director of Strategic Development for the non-profit
Coro Leadership Center. “There are over 80 mentoring groups around
New York City and all of them suffer from a severe shortage of
willing male volunteers. Literally, tens of thousands of boys
are looking for a mentor. So, since I play basketball in all these
different leagues, it occurred to me why not talk to the people
I play with and against to see if they’re interested? And why
not set up the program as a basketball camp in order to bring
Dworkin, inspired by ex-Knicks star and Democratic Presidential
candidate Bill Bradley’s book Values of the Game, set up each
session around a particular theme, including discipline, respect,
responsibility resilience, vision decision-making and teamwork.
During the day’s basketball drills, the values are re-emphasized
with the instructors constantly drawing parallels with life.
we’re dealing with decision-making,” said Dworkin to the group
that was getting ready to play. “During the game, you’ll be making
decisions constantly as to where and when to pass the ball, whether
you should shoot or whether your teammate has a better shot at
the hoop if you make the right pass. It’s just like that in life.
What are you going to do today? Are you going to school? What
are your choices for your future? Practically everything in your
life involves decision-making. So try to make the right decisions.
Each choice you make might impact your life.”
HLBC, which is co-sponsored by Coro, the New York City Parks and
Recreation Department, and the New York City Mentoring Partnership,
has also had well-known guest speakers like Fordham (and ex-Knicks)
Coach Bob Hill, MSG Network’s Mike Quick, and former U.S. team-member
Anucha Brown-Sanders, and NBA referee Tom Washington to reinforce
the lessons absorbed. “Let’s face it, if you’re connected to the
NBA, kids will listen to you just a little harder,” a smiling
successful people look back, they cite those older adults who
influenced their development even if they knew them just for a
short time,” added Dworkin. “We hope that the mentoring relationships
developed here will extend long after this camp is over. We hope
to give these young men the support, skills, and confidence they’ll
need to be leaders in their schools, homes, and communities.”
Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel:
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